The Bicycle’s Trip

July 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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It was a beautiful morning when I woke up that day. The sky was clear and the weather was perfect. It had been a hot summer, much more so than usual, and I like so many other residents of my town had decided the best place to be was inside an air conditioned room. It was around midday when I decided to go out for a bike ride. It had been a long, cold winter, and I had sworn to myself that when summertime came I would make the most of it. I decided to act upon that promise. I forced myself to put down the book that I was reading. I was just pages away from finishing it, but I desired to do something else, something new. I told myself that these solemn, inactive activities were to be best left to days not as fine as this, and so I set off for a bike ride. I had purchased a new bicycle a couple of years before, and since that time it had mostly rested indoors, much like me. The bike was a reproduction of a vintage model made before my time and its rustic appearance had stroked my interest.

When I had got outside I noticed that the morning’s beauty had been replaced by cloudy skies. It was not a matter of significance to my determined mind, as I had a craving that could only be satisfied by the fine looking burgundy coloured bicycle stored in the back of my garage. I took the bike down my driveway and past the forested area that surrounded my isolated house in the countryside. The wind shook my hair and blew my clothes against me as I rode down the hill towards the town beneath the mountainside. I had walked down this road many times in the past and had even biked down it before when I had first bought the bicycle two years ago. I reckoned the ride would take me less than fifteen minutes. I coasted down the hill, managing the curve in the road with controlled braking. Geese called above me as I rode past the cliff side to my right. From atop the mountain I could see the clusters of houses and buildings which formed a town at the bottom of the valley. It was an incredible sight on a summer’s day such as this, and I was only interrupted from its beauty by the sudden drops of rain upon my body. I watched the water seep into my clothes before my vision was contorted into a series of blurred images.

I was sent forward from the blow. Something had struck my bike from behind and thrown me from my seat. My mind didn’t have time to process what had happened, and I was barely able to react. I was falling, and I instinctively raised my arms ahead of me to break my fall and keep my face from hitting the concrete. My body hit the pavement and I was tossed into a roll down the steep mountain road. My hands, legs, and arms drew blood when scraped against the rough pavement. I rolled for what seemed like miles before I stopped. My mind felt fuzzy but I remained conscious, and after a few brief moments of confusion I managed to summarize what had happened in my mind. I realized that I had been hit by something, a vehicle of some kind and had been thrown to where I was from the collision. As I was sitting there, for the first time since the accident I felt the unbearable pain from the scrapes on my bloodied body. When I opened my eyes and looked up, all that I could see was darkness. It had been midday when I started my bike ride, and I couldn’t comprehend how nigh time had fallen so quickly. The country sky, which was normally packed with the bright lights from the heavens, was devoid of any such light, not even the moon. Living in this part of the country, I had had my fair share of eerie outdoorsman experiences, the kind you would tell around a campfire over a couple of beers, but those stories paled in comparison to this. My confusion was broke from the surges of pain as they shot through my body. I could not see anything in the pitch black around me, but I could vividly feel the stinging pain. My shirt and shorts had protected my body to some degree, but I felt most of it as being bruised and bloodied. I remembered memories from my childhood then, experiences of being lost and alone in the woods around my house, and those painful memories of fear and helplessness surrounded me like they had once before. I knew this area off by heart, yet in the darkness I could sense nothing familiar.

I was sitting in the fetal position, fearful of the dark abyss which had surrounded me, and scared of causing myself more pain through movement. I could not see, but I knew I had to do something, anything. I needed to find help. The town below had a local clinic, but it was miles down the road. I knew it would be faster to walk to my home; I had a first aid kit there. My hands and legs burned in excruciating pain as I tried to push myself up onto my feet, and my right leg buckled under my weight before I could do so, sending me falling back onto the ground. My hands burned at whatever they touched and I could not feel whatever it was they fell upon. I couldn’t feel anything besides the raindrops which poured down upon my agonizing face. I was at my limit and I broke down into tears. I cried so hard that my sobs replaced my agony with silence. I called for help, knowing no one was there to hear me, but my voice was caught within my throat. I tried to scream, but could produce no sound. When I moved my hands to my throat to coax the voice from my breath I found I could not do so. I could not express my agony through words and so I pounded the ground in frustration. My foolish actions were met with pain and pain only, and it was then that I discovered I could not hear, too. I was deaf, blind, and crippled, and my body panicked at the thoughts as ran through me. My mind processed a life of nothingness and immobility, and those thoughts of helplessness sent my mind into a state of terror. My sanity returned when I saw the hope which was a light at the bottom of the hill. My pupils retracted and my eyes struggled to focus the image of blurry light in front of me. I was relieved that I could see something, anything. The light grew closer and brighter as it advanced upon me, its faint gleam growing slowly taller to reveal the blurry image amongst its dim yellow glow.

The image before me was a person, what I had believed to be an angel. However that thought was soon erased from my mind as I comprehended the horrible image in front of me. A pair of grotesque horribly mangled legs limped towards me, and blood lurched from the beings legs as it stalked its way to my direction. I blinked when I saw this, not wanting to believe what I had just seen, but the image was still before my eyes and shaking body. The figure slowly revealed itself from the darkness as it grew nearer. I could see more blood, more gore, and for the first time in my life I experienced absolute terror. I tried to get up, to run, but I could not muster the strength to do so. My outstretched hands tried to pull my body back away from the body of pulsing blood and guts that was coming towards me, but I could not do so, and that helplessness was what drove me from my sanity. As the body drew closer, the light revealed the figure’s torso and lower chest. The horrible figure wore a tattered and bloody white dress which was draped upon its boney and pale body. The sound of static accompanied by falling rain flowed into my eardrums as the now headless figure limped towards me. I was shaking uncontrollably in terror as the body’s face was unveiled from the blackness, and I felt the splash of rain brought from the figure’s step in front of me as I caught a glimpse of the pale face and piercing blue eyes of the monster. I closed my eyes then, unable to bear seeing these last few moments of my life. Cold hands tightened around my shoulders before I opened my eyes from the grasp of tightened hands… As my eyelid coiled back I saw a flashlight shining into my eyes and the face of a paramedic behind it. I felt the rain fall upon me as I was lifted from the ground and placed gingerly into a stretcher. I could hear the raindrops hit the pavement around me and the static of a paramedic’s radio as he spoke into it.

After weeks in the hospital I was finally released. I had a friend drive me home after I had been discharged, and when I arrived back home he presented me with the bicycle I had lost in the accident. He told me he went to retrieve it after he had heard what happened, as he thought I would want it returned. He said apart from the scratches, the bike still seemed to be in good condition, but what couldn’t seem to get off was a pair of small hand prints on the right side of the bike’s frame. They seemed to have been stained on with some sort of chemical, and that he had found it this way when he found the bike near the edge of the cliff, where the girl who fell to her death ten years ago had supposedly fallen from.

Credit To – 9753

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And The Hole Goes Deeper

July 10, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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This is the seventh installment in the Tower of Sorrow series.
Part One: Yon Black Edifice Hath Called Me
Part Two: First Steps
Part Three: Tight Spaces
Part Four: The Driver
Part Five: Hittin’ The Road
Part Six: The Blue Bronco

“Whoooaaaa! Whoa,” I exclaim; throwing my hands up, “I have no idea what’s going on here. I don’t know you from Adam you old bastard! How the fuck can you just assume that I even care about your stupid little boys’ club anyhow?! I’m fucking outta here. STAT!” I turn and head for the door only to realize there simply isn’t a door there anymore.

“Conner!” the old man snaps, “Won’t you please just give me a minute or two of your time? I do believe that you will find me to be a most generous host.”

“Just why in the fuck should I do that? From what I can see,” I hiss, “you’re running some kind of fucked up fetish parlor with drugs and who knows what the fuck else! If this is the part where you offer me riches, drugs, or even a stake in your empire, then I say, GO FUCK YOURSELF YOU CRAZY ASS!”
With that last exclamation, the old man all but topples from his chair, howling with laughter. I can see the tears streaming down his cheeks. “This my boy,” he says with a grin, “is merely a front for what we really do here.”

“Not much of one,” I smirk.

Jack nudges me solidly in the ribs with his pointy elbow. As I rub my side the old man chuckles a bit more and goes on. “Now I won’t lie to you boy. We do indeed run a very “secretive” sex ring. Why, men of all ages can come here and practically live out any sexual fantasy they may have; with complete anonomity. No questions asked. If they got the money, we got the honey. Drugs? Got those too. In whatever form or potency you could want. Now, I must ask a question that I believe both you and I know the answer to. Do you really believe, after all you’ve seen and experienced, that this little operation can simply be taken at face value?”

My head reels a bit as I take in what he’s just said. For the first time since seeing the tower, I realize just how many inexplicable things I’ve seen recently. I look to Jack who just stands there grinning. The old men at the table eagerly await a response. As the seconds tick by, I can feel sweat oozing from my pores, only to run down my back and face. My mouth goes dry and my mind races. This old bastard knows just entirely too much. How could he possibly know what I’d been through? Not to mention my run in with Jack and the following pursuit of what could only be described as demons and ghouls. There had to be something. Something more. Something larger.
In that moment, I realize that the deep sea green eyes set in the old man’s face don’t share the ragged look of his weathered facade. I can see Jack’s true face shimmering just beneath the face that he would have the world see. “What trickery is this old man?” I all but whisper. “Who are you? Show me your true face! I command you!” As the words escape my mouth, I struggle to determine just what made me say them.

“Conner dear boy,” he says through a jovial smile,”all you had to do was ask.” With that, the facades of every one in the room fall away. I can see them all for what they truly were all along. Jack’s face is familiar, but those of the old men in the room cause the hair on my arms and neck to stand. My stomach cartwheels harshly and my jaw hangs slack. “Something wrong my dear boy? You look pale. Jack, get young Conner a chair and a glass of water, please.”
As Jack returns with the chair, I graciously accept and sit. When he turns to fetch a glass of water I stop him, “Hold up there Jack-o,” I pause to light a cigarette, “I’m gonna need something a mite stronger. How about a scotch, and make it a double while you’re at it!” The beings sitting before me snicker a bit, but Jack simply tips his hat and strides to the mini-bar. I draw deeply on my smoke and level my eyes across the table. My mind is still stirring a bit as I try to piece together my thoughts. On the one hand there’s the fact that I really have no idea just who or what I’m dealing with. On the other hand, realistically, I am the guest of honor it should seem.

Where there once sat an old man, there now sits an alien creature, at the head of the table. He / it looks reminiscent of something from the darkest depths of the sea. His eyes are set to the sides of his its skull. Beneath two holes where a nose would be, sits a gaping maw filled with large sharp teeth akin to spikes. The neck beneath is host to a set of gills on either side, leading down to a torso and body that could only be described as a hybrid of man and fish. The other men / creatures are too alien to describe. It’s as if their horrendous forms can’t bare to adhere to any Earthly shapes. They constantly shift and move in one fluid motion that never ceases. Jack returns with the scotch and I put it down in one gulp. “Oh man,” I exclaim through a magnanimous grin, “Please sir, may I have another?” The room erupts in laughter, Jack included. He glides off toward the mini-bar still chuckling while I sit and let the scotch work its beautiful magic. The effects take hold, just barely, as Jack returns with the second glass. I down that one even faster, jutting the empty glass towards Jack, “Eh, gimme another just for good measure.” I throw my now worthless cigarette butt on the floor. Before any can protest, I throw my hand up, stomp it out, and proceed to light a fresh one. This time Jack returns with a half-full glass and bottle in hand. I sneer at him, “Very good Jeeves. Very good.” I return my gaze to the assorted horrors before me, “Go on.”

“Well,” the fishman sighs, “Why don’t we start with introductions, shall we?” He glances around the room to be answered with nods of approval. He turns back to me, “We all know you already Conner.” I nonchalantly wave his comment away. With a slight grimace he goes on, “I,” he starts, pointing at himself, “am R’luhgrah’nyth.” The name immediately reminds me of the weird language Jack used with the door guard. It’s deeper though. It puts me in mind of something else. Something vaguely familiar but rooted deep in my psyche. As the fishman rattles through his introductions, my mind begins to swim a bit from the Scotch. I lose hold of the meaning of his name and my mind returns to the idea of this “place of business.”

I quickly throw my hand up to interrupt his rambling, “Why pray tell, would you choose this world? Furthermore, why here, in this place, in these disguises, and for the love of G….” at this Jack reaches out and slaps my mouth. I look up at him rubbing my jaw. He sneers at me and waves his damn finger at me…..again. “Right, right, the name. Sorry.” I level my eyes at the fishman and go on, “Why such a “business” as this? It’s kinda fucking nasty don’t you think?”

The fishman chuckles and lets out a small sigh. “You inerrupted me for such a meaningless question? Seriously kid. Listen, it’s this easy. There are a great number of very corrupt and vile men in very high places here. Lawyers, politicians, government officials, men of the cloth, etcetera. These men allow us to flourish because they greatly enjoy what we have on offer. They ask few questions and keep us away from the spotlight. It is the perfect place for us to plot and scheme, and to get ready for what’s to come.”
Even through the fog of alcohol, tumblers click into place and I begin to see the cogs of a great machine at work. “So what’s this great plan of yours? Just burst into Heaven and take out the “Big Cheese”,” I ask snorting a chuckle.
“Something like that,” the fishman says through his nightmarish grin, “and that’s where you come in.”

Credit to: J. Brown

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Marked for Death

July 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Bryn was not a squeamish girl, but this was really pushing it.
“Okay, you want me to do what?”
Jasmine smirked. “I want you to go in there and take pictures.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder and continued. “My parents would freak out if they caught me coming home looking like you do every day. But yours wouldn’t give a crap about it.”
“But the old asylum? Really? It was quarantined for a reason,” Bryn said.
“Well, if you don’t want to do it, I can always just tell everyone that you tried to beat me up,” Jasmine said, that annoying twinkle in her eyes. She thought she knew everything.
Bryn sighed. It wasn’t true, of course, but everyone would believe Jasmine. She had been defeated. Jasmine would always do anything to get her way. “So why exactly do you need pictures?”
Jasmine adjusted her flashy red glasses. “Because I want to shoot a video on the occult there, and I need to know if it’s a good set.”
“Then do it yourself!”
Jasmine handed her a cheap digital camera. “I already explained why I can’t. So go there tonight and let that sucker snap, ‘kay?”
“But what about the disease?” Bryn asked.
“Oh, don’t be such a pathetic wimp. The disease will obviously be dead by now.”

Bryn trudged toward the asylum, camera in hand.
Back in whatever year, a patient who came to the asylum carried a deadly disease with them. The doctors and nurses had filed reports about the strange black markings found on the necks of each sick patient. The disease had affected the other patients, and the asylum ended up having to be quarantined because it was so bad. They meant to burn down the asylum once all the patients were dead (things were different back then), but it was never gotten around to. Now everyone in town considered it haunted, although the patients were presumed dead.
Bryn stopped in front of the old asylum. Dust seemed to hang in the air, above the browning grass choked with weeds. A heavy feeling of dread lingered around the building. It was nightfall. The moon shone eerily through a dense mist of wispy clouds.
She scowled at the asylum, took a shuddering breath and entered.
Inside was a thick coating of dust on every surface. There were holes in the roof where the moon shone through; there were no working lights and everything was colored in monochrome.
She struggled not to sneeze. She had a strange feeling that something bad would happen if she did. She brought the camera up and pressed down on the shutter button. A sudden and frightening wave of light swept the room. She continued like this as she made her way through the rooms.
Oh, that’s strange. I thought there would at least be some traces of the patients.
Bryn came to a heavy wooden door, unbolted. She opened it cautiously to find a dusty staircase leading down into the dark. She heard a strange dripping sound.
Jasmine can explore the stupid basement herself. I’m done.
Bryn worked her way back to the door.
She couldn’t open it. She frowned and tried again, but was still unsuccessful. Bryn backed up. The door was locked.
I’m screwed. I’m really, truly screwed.
She heard the dripping sound, louder this time. Something made a crash. Bryn ran to the basement, which she had stupidly left open, and fell down the stairs. She lifted her head, only to see the door close with a finalized thud. She was trapped.
Bryn stood up and spat her hair out of her mouth, trying to stay calm.
It’s probably just a prank – a stupid one, at that. That door will open in the morning and there’ll just be a bunch of obnoxious teenagers laughing at me…right?
Bryn studied her surroundings apprehensively. She could see no more than a few feet in front of her, and like the room above, everything was coated in dust. She took a few steps forward, arms outstretched to feel a cold surface, the opposite wall. Bryn frowned. It was a…mirror? roughly as big as a doorway. She peered at the glassy surface, but saw no reflection.
Something scuttled behind her and Bryn turned, clutching her camera defensively. There was nothing there so she turned back to face the mirror and immediately jumped back, a scream escaping her throat.
A man stood in the mirror, grinning eerily. His blank eyes were sunken into the waxy, translucent skin stretched across his face. Thin purple veins bulged across his bone-white scalp in place of hair, and Bryn could see a small black mark on his neck.
Bryn shrieked and hurled her camera at the mirror. It shattered on contact, shards sailing through the air and landing on the floor in a flurry of clinking noises. Her hand curled around a particularly large piece of the broken mirror and she rose, ready to stab him–it, but it was unnecessary. The man was gone.
Bryn walked shakily backwards to the mirror-less wall behind her and held the shard out from her quivering body.
But she let a small laugh out. It was just a mirror, she thought. I must have been hallucinating. Just because this asylum is unnerving doesn’t mean there is anyone lurking in the shadows or mirrors, for God’s sake. See, look, it’s just a harmless mirror.
Bryn walked over to the shards and examined them in the dim light that seeped in through the cracks in the wooden door that had sealed her in to the basement.
In one moment, she realized the mirror shards were glass. There was not a doorway-sized mirror–there was a glass door–and it was broken. She gasped, and the second she made a sound, a bony, moist hand bulging with thin, protruding veins reached out the doorway.
She screamed as she was dragged into the room beyond.
“Get away from me!” Bryn sprinted down the next hall, the man close behind. He seemed to have never-ending stamina. Then again, he wasn’t necessarily running–she didn’t know what to classify it as. He was simply there in a flash, chasing after her.
Bryn, on the other hand, was starting to slow down against her will. Sweat rolled down her face, despite the cool temperature of the air, and her breaths came in short, choppy bursts. Her eyes widened as she saw something at the end of the hall–a door? She gritted her teeth and pushed herself forward, yanking on the doorknob and throwing herself inside before closing and locking it as fast as she could.
Bryn turned around, leaning on the locked door for support. She breathed a sigh of relief. Today, she thought, she wouldn’t die.
And then she saw it.
From the dark shadows in the corner came what Bryn at first thought was a huge bug. But then she realized it was a patient, with no legs. One eye hung from its socket by a thin tendon, the other socket empty, exposing thin, stretched yellow skin. It dragged itself toward Bryn with its arms, making a grotesque scraping noise. From its mouth issued a terrifying, inhuman screech like nails on a chalkboard.
“No food,” it rasped quietly, “but now there is a feast…”
It came closer to Bryn, exposing four rows of sharp blackening teeth.
Bryn was trapped between two killers.
It came closer and closer, a trail of dark blood behind it. The blood was everywhere–on the walls, the floor, even the ceiling. A heavy stench of death and rotten things permeated the air in the room. Bryn had to restrain herself from screaming bloody murder as the thing’s malformed face stretched into a bone-chilling smile. She backed up slowly, suddenly hitting something solid–the wall.
NO! NONONONONONONONONONO! I’M GOING TO DIE!
Her bag bumped against the wall and something fell out, glinting silver. A small flashlight, the kind a person would put on a keychain. A idea passed through her brain. Light. This thing had probably been living down here in the dark for who-knew-how-long, so light would hurt it, right?
Bryn quickly crouched down, her fingers scrabbling across the floor to find the flashlight. She glanced back and forth nervously, from the floor to the thing, as she searched, the creature growing ever closer with slow, even movements. It wasn’t even trying to hurry, like it knew that Bryn was trapped and doomed to become its prey.
No…where IS it?! Bryn’s panic grew worse with each second. The light. The light. She had to find the light.
She heard a soft hissing sort of noise behind her, and realized that the thing was laughing. Bryn turned to see the legless patient’s face inches from her own. She struggled to hold in her scream as the thing’s eye, dangling down from its face, bobbed up and down. She heard its erratic breathing. Its breath was disgusting.
Bryn backed into the wall as much as she could, knowing that she was going to die no matter what. Something gleamed in the darkness over the thing’s shoulder. The flashlight. If she could get ahold of it somehow…
Stay alive. That was her main priority right now. So she had to do this, for her life.
Bryn winced slightly, gritted her teeth, and yanked on the thin cord of flesh holding the monster’s remaining eye in.
It shrieked like a banshee, hands reaching up to the empty socket and Bryn dashed past it to grab the flashlight. Not caring about whether or not it would still do anything to the creature without its eye, not caring about anything but survival, she flicked it on and pointed it towards the thing.
The reaction was instantaneous. It let out a long, tortured screech as its skin bubbled up and its face seemed to melt. Bryn continued to hold the thing in the deadly glare of the light until it collapsed in a pool of blood and half-melted flesh, letting out a final shriek before going still.
Now she just had to find a way out. Maybe the man was gone from the door. She turned just as a deafening knock rang out. Nope. Another knock came. And another. They grew louder and closer together, until Bryn was withstanding awful pounding noises echoing all around the chamber. She knew that the door wouldn’t last much longer. Bryn had to find a hiding place–fast.
She desperately looked around the room, searching for something, anything that could possibly hide her. The only possible hiding spot was the dark corner of the room that the thing had come from, but that would be far too obvious. She’d be found right away. But she could always…Bryn pursed her lips as the pounding continued.

The man came bursting through the door, grinning madly. The creepy smile melted off of his face, however, when he did not see Bryn. He flashed over to the dark corner, the spindly fingers of his hand curling into a fist and punching the wall, causing the stone to crack. He emitted an inhuman growling noise in rage and passed right through the wall to search for the girl.
Bryn slowly eased herself out of the remains of the thing and stood. There was blood and other things she wasn’t sure she wanted to know the names of dripping from her. Well, camouflage. She had not wanted at all to hide inside the thing’s corpse, but it was all for survival, right?
Bryn fought back hot tears welling up in her eyes. She was alive, and that was all that mattered.
Bryn knew she had to get out of the basement. She opened the door as quietly as she could. There was nothing in the dark hall. The night had gotten darker and there was barely any light. Bryn made her way through the hall based solely on sound. From one side of her came an eerie song. The notes seemed to settle in her mouth and nose and suffocate her. So she covered her ears and felt for the closest door with one hand. Bryn’s hand rested on a door handle and she silently slipped into the room. The music had stopped, but she was in the room it had come from.
There was a beautiful glossy white grand piano in the center of the room. She felt an unearthly pull towards the piano. Bryn had never played one a day in her life, but she had to play it. The minute her hands stroked the keys a beautiful tune started. But soon it morphed into the painful song she had listened to in the hall.
Bryn tried to cover her ears but something was forcing her to continue playing. As the song got worse and Bryn started to panic, a knife was at her throat and something dragged her off the bench, singing the terrible song in her ear. The blade was cold against her throat, and Bryn saw a small hand materialize on the handle from the corner of her eye. The creepy singing in her ear was interrupted by a soft, girlish giggle.
“You shouldn’t touch my piano, you know? It’ll taint it…”
Bryn nervously took in a breath. “Can you take the knife away from my throat? You could hurt me…” She figured by the girl’s voice that she was young.
“Ohhh…I wouldn’t want that…”
Bryn slowly exhaled. The girl probably wouldn’t hurt her…
“I mean, I want you to die, you know?”
No. She was NOT dying now, not after running from a creepy man and hiding in a half-melted corpse. “Maybe we can work this out…”
The knife pressed deeper into her throat.
“A-A CONTEST!”
The knife paused. “Go on…”
“We’ll both play the piano…whoever’s playing is better will win. If I win, I get to leave, but if you win, you…you can kill me.”
The blade came away from her throat. Bryn turned cautiously to see a young girl in a lacy, old-fashioned dress. There was an ethereal quality to her, however, her skin being completely white, and Bryn had the feeling she wasn’t exactly alive. The girl smiled. “I love games! Let’s play! I’ll go first!”
Bryn nodded. Perfect. The girl placed the knife on the edge of the piano and smoothed her skirts, sitting on the bench. She lifted her white hands to the equally white keys and began to play.
The music washed over the room, flowing with a graceful, elegant tune. It sounded happy and light, but Bryn could sense a tinge of melancholy as the girl swayed with the music. At last the song ended, leaving a sense of peace and sadness lingering in the room. The girl turned excitedly back towards Bryn. “So? How was tha-”
She was cut short as Bryn forced her frail form forward, then released the top of the piano to slam down on her head with a sickening crunch. It cut straight through a now apparent black mark on her neck. Bryn lifted the knife from the piano and drove it through the girl’s chest from behind for good measure as sticky blood leaked out from the piano, dripping onto the keys and staining the pure white a deep red.
Bryn left the room, the piano’s sheet music placed on the dead girl’s back with the knife gone and the words “YOU LOST” written in blood over the notes.
Bryn walked calmly down the hall, clutching the knife. Well, it’s way too late to go back now, and this creepy asylum probably won’t even let me. I guess the only thing to do is go further in.
So Bryn continued and the hall seemed to go further down than it had originally appeared. The darkness seemed to be closing in on her as she set her gaze forward to see a door at the end of the hall. She reached out to place her hand on the doorknob, only to hear a sound and whirl around to face…
“Jasmine?”
The small but persuasive girl was standing there in the middle of the hall, red glasses shining in the little light there was. Bryn held her knife in front of her, ready to strike, but Jasmine backed away slightly. Bryn scowled at her.
“What are you doing here?”
Jasmine said, “It’s none of your business. I wanted to come in. You were being too slow.”
“How did you get down here?” Bryn demanded.
Jasmine shifted her weight onto her other foot nervously. “It’s still none of your business. Let’s just go.” Jasmine marched past Bryn, grabbed her wrist, opened the door and pulled Bryn against her will into the room. When they were in, the door disappeared to leave behind a solid concrete wall.
Drip.
Drip.
Drip.
Jasmine squeaked and pressed herself up against the aforementioned wall. “What is that?”
Bryn looked up and saw what was freaking out Jasmine. The entire room was covered in spikes, save for the floor and the wall Jasmine was clinging to like a lifeline. A ways up on the wall, about four feet up, were several bodies skewered on these shining iron spikes. The spikes had reached all the way through their torsos, and their entrails were hanging out, swinging in the slight draft. Every few second a small drop of crimson blood would fall from the bodies and land in a rapidly growing pool in the floor.
Jasmine seemed to be trying to fuse herself with the wall. “W-what do w-we do?”
Bryn didn’t even bother to look at her. “You wanted to come in here, Jasmine.”
Then a strange scraping sound rang through the room. The spiked walls closed in on them slightly, as Jasmine shrieked like a very unhelpful banshee. Bryn’s eyes widened slightly and she got into a defensive stance, knuckles white against clenched knife, as if thinking that would help.
The scraping noise continued as the walls crept up on them, the entrails of the long-dead corpses swinging jerkily. Jasmine was busy having a hysterical meltdown as Bryn examined the pool of blood on the floor. A small wooden corner of something peeked out from underneath it.
Could it be…?
Bryn kicked some of the blood out of the way and her suspicions were confirmed.
A trapdoor! Bryn tugged on the rusty metal ring holding it in place and managed to yank it partly open. Jasmine squealed like a pig and rushed to the trapdoor, pushing Bryn out of the way. Bryn quickly studied the spikes on the wall. There was only enough time for one person to go down the trapdoor before the spikes impaled them, too. So Bryn stabbed her knife through Jasmine’s stomach and hurried down the trapdoor, turning to see black sand rushing out of Jasmine’s wound. Jasmine had not been real.
Bryn fell through the dark and landed in something soft, followed by a spattering of blood and a pair of cracked red glasses. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, Bryn could make out a reddish tint all around her. Where was she?
She tested the floor with her foot and found it to be spongy and soft. The chamber was suddenly shaken by what seemed like a pulse. She reached out warily and her fingers met a series of slimy cords reaching from floor to ceiling. Bryn gritted her teeth and brought her knife through them. Whatever this room was, she wanted to get out.
She continued to cut through the slimy cords, searching for a source of light until finally she broke through the last of them and burst out into yet another hallway. A pair of vast double doors stood before her. She cautiously pushed them open and opened. She heard a strange sound from the ceiling. Bryn stopped dead and looked up, only to be smacked backwards by something very solid.
Bryn dusted herself off and stood up. She looked to what had hit her, and tried to choke back a scream. It was her, hanged from the ceiling. The body was swinging back and forth like a morbid unmanned marionette, and that wasn’t all. All down the hall were torture devices of every kind imaginable, each one featuring her as its victim.
Bryn took a deep breath and took one step down the hall, trying her best not to look on either side. She heard no screaming. All of her doppelgangers were eerily silent. Every so often Bryn would be showered with blood or chunks of unknown substances.
Bryn gathered her courage and sprinted down the hall to another door. But it wasn’t a door. It was a mirror. Bryn finally managed to force herself to look back but the door had disappeared. On a whim, Bryn stuck her hand tentatively out to the mirror. It went through, so Bryn tightened her grip on the piano girl’s bloodied knife and walked straight through it.
Inside the mirror, it was completely silent, even more so than the hall of torture devices. Bryn turned in a slow circle and saw herself reflected on every surface. She recoiled slightly as a small black mark on her neck came into view. Bryn closed her eyes. It’s not real, it’s just an illusion.
“It’s not real,” she repeated aloud.
“But it is, isn’t it?”
Her eyes shot open to focus on a small girl, peering over Bryn’s shoulder in the mirror. The piano girl.
Bryn jumped forward, away from the piano girl. “But I…I killed you…”
The girl smiled and chuckled musically. “Funny how that works, isn’t it? But I’m here now to take my knife back. You need to be taught a lesson, you know? You touched my piano,” she took a step forward. “And that’s not okay.”
Bryn tightened her grip on the stolen knife. “I-I saw your head explode! You should be dead!”
The girl pouted slightly. “Boy, didn’t anyone ever teach you to listen? And not to take things? We covered this already. Now, give me my knife!”
Bryn gritted her teeth and sprinted down the mirror hall, the girl’s sing-songy voice echoing after her. “That’s not very nice, you know. You shouldn’t run away from your lessons! It’s such an inconvenience to have to catch you again, you know? But I can do it, sooo…”
Bryn didn’t wait for the girl to prove her claim. She ran even faster, and the mirrors around her seemed to change in blurs of muted, glistening color until she was running down the very first hall in the basement. The hall that had started it all. And there was the door! All she had to do was run up the stairs and open it. She suddenly heard a growl and a bone-chilling scraping noise. She knew without looking that the threats she had evaded earlier were back.
Bryn reached the staircase, but as soon as she saw it, it drew itself back up, leaving a door twenty feet up on the damp wall, unreachable. Instead, a man, a normal man, was standing in front of Bryn.
The monsters stopped. They watched.
“You need to make a decision here,” the man told her. “You can stay here, with us. We won’t hurt you. Not if you don’t resist. You’ll become one of us, living in the darkness, trying to recruit others who are unlucky enough to find us. We were all once like you, but our stories are to be told another time. Or you can take this box of matches, open this door–” a door appeared behind his shoulder, “and we can resume this chase.”
Bryn didn’t hesitate. She grabbed the matchbox, not sure why she needed it, and threw open the door. An identical hall lay before her, a faint light at the end. She sprinted down it, getting a slight head start from the monsters, and reached the light. There was another door she opened, and she found herself in the ugly brown field in the front of the old insane asylum. The monsters stopped in the doorway.
“Very well. You’ve made your choice. Do what you wish with the matches. I suppose your fate is the same. It is all a matter of freedom.”
The monsters retreated. Bryn felt like sitting down in the field and crying, overwhelmed by the events she had just witnessed and survived, but she had a job to finish. She opened the matchbox, grabbed a match, lit it, and threw it towards the asylum. The old wooden building ignited, throwing heat onto her face. Bryn tore through the field until she reached the sidewalk, a line of burning weeds following her. As she made her way down the sidewalk, she heard sirens. Bryn smiled. Now no one would have to experience the terror she just had.
Bryn realized she had been gone for at least one day. Her poor mother must have been freaking out. When Bryn reached her house, less than a mile away from the asylum, police cars were parked in her driveway. She found her mother sobbing in the middle of the living room, being awkwardly comforted by stony-faced policemen.
When her mother spotted her, Bryn was pulled into a bone-crushing hug amid sobs and cries of incredible joy. She shed a few tears herself, glad to be home. Her mother sent her to bed immediately, and Bryn crept into bed, her mother sitting next to her to tuck her in. Her mother spoke a few warming words. But Bryn couldn’t escape the chilling ones that came after.
“Hey, honey, what is that black mark on your neck?”

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Nick and Nancy

July 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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It began around three in the morning with a phone call. I was a college freshman, sharing a dorm room with another college freshman. We were both locals, and even though we’d gone to different high schools, it helped us get along. I wasn’t exactly feeling like getting along with her, though, when her cell phone rang loudly that night. That she had an extremely annoying song set as her ring tone made it even worse.

“Hello?” I heard her whisper. I could tell she was at least trying, but when you share a bunk bed, every little movement shakes the entire frame.
“What? You’re breaking up. No, no, don’t yell. It won’t- hang on- what?” There was silence for quite a while and I thought maybe she had hung up, but finally, I heard a painfully loud sigh at the same time I heard her slide down the ladder and drop heavily on the floor.

“Kelly?” she whispered. Then again, a moment later, and slightly louder, “Kelly?”

“What?” I responded in a moan. I purposely groaned it out to let her know I was displeased with being awakened.

“Look, I’m really, really sorry about this… but that was my brother, Nick. He’s drunk at a party and he wants a ride home. He’s afraid to call our parents because he’s thinks they’ll freak.” I had only met Nancy’s brother on move-in day. They’d introduced themselves as ‘Nick and Nancy, thick as thieves.’ I thought they were weird. I knew why she was telling me this. I had a car on campus, she didn’t. Our home town was only fifteen minutes away by car, but I can tell you, that wasn’t a drive I wanted to make at that moment. At the same time, I knew that if the situations were reversed, I’d be desperate for my roommate to rescue my brother.

“What the hell, tomorrow’s Sunday, and you’re going to owe me. A whole tank of gas. The whole thing. Ten gallons.” Hey, it was a small car. So shoot me. Got decent enough mileage.

I’ve never gotten dressed that quickly when that tired before. I was a bit nervous about this drive. Even though Nancy was coming with, and even though it was only a fifteen minute drive, ten of them were through thick woods with barely lighted highways. The real threat was deer. The imaginary threat… well, I grew up in a town surrounded by woods. Of course we tried to scare the pants off one another by telling scary stories about the woods when we were kids. I knew they weren’t real, but at what was now three-thirty in the morning, I also couldn’t forget them.

Despite being exhausted, I tried to stay awake enough to look for deer. Every so often something would glint in the ditches and startle me. It always turned out to be trash or driveway reflectors. Until you’ve driven down a dark, wooded highway though, you have no idea how frightening the reflector on a mailbox can be.

Nancy broke the silence. “I keep thinking I see something out there.”

“Yeah, deer. Keep your eyes peeled. The last thing we need is to get into a crash ourselves.”

“I’ll keep an eye out for wildlife, but don’t call me dear,” she said. I knew it was a joke, but the tone wasn’t one of amusement. I guess we were both in pretty sour moods at that moment. I was almost starting to feel bad for her brother. I could feel a chewing out coming on.

We finally arrived at the house. “Are you sure this is the right place?”

“Yeah, his friend Bob’s house. I know the place.”

“You said there was a party going on, but I don’t see any cars, and the lights are out.”

She looked around. “Maybe it ended in the time it took us to drive over. I heard the party though. I mean, the line was really terrible. Lots of static, keep cutting in and out, but I could hear the beat of the music and I could hear talking and laughing.”

We both got out. A cold wind was blowing. We jumped at every noise as we walked up the drive, stuck close together out of nervousness. Nancy knocked on the door. We waited. Nancy knocked again. Once again, we waited. As Nancy was in the middle of knocking louder the front light came on. A scrawny teenage boy wearing only jeans answered the door, looking like death warmed over. I had never met him, but I presumed this to be Bob.

“Nancy?” he asked groggily. “What are you doing here?”

“Nick called me to ask for a ride home.”

It was clear Bob was trying to wake up enough to process what was going on. “Yeah, Nick’s… Nick’s sleeping on the couch. Come on in, Nancy. He didn’t tell me he called you.” We followed him in.

“Nick said there was a party?” I asked. I was trying to be helpful. I felt a bit out of place there.

“Yeah, yeah, there was… but it ended around midnight, maybe one at the latest… Nick sure waited awhile to call you.” He turned on the living room light. I could see what I assumed to be one of Nick’s arms sticking out from under the pile of blankets on the couch. “Hey, Nick, your sister is here for you. Nick, wake up man,” Bob said. He reached out and shook Nick’s shoulder. “Hey, get up man, I want to go back to sleep. Niiiiick?”

We were starting to get nervous. I could hear it in Bob’s voice, see it in Nancy’s body language, and feel it in my own muscles. Bob finally grabbed the sheets and yanked them off.

Nick’s face was a pasty white. His lips were tinged with blue. After that, I know what happened, but I am unclear on the order with which things happened. I’m not sure if it was Nancy or Bob who tried CPR first. I didn’t know CPR. There was nothing I could do. I didn’t even know the address to call the police. But they did come, eventually, not only the police but an ambulance.

I remember them talking to Nancy afterwards, once her parents had arrived. “There was nothing you could do. They estimate he died around one, long before you arrived. We… I know this is hard on you, but we won’t definitively know what happened until the… coroner’s report.”

“But… but that’s impossible! He just called me at three to pick him up. That’s how I knew to come here,” Nancy argued.

“It’s true. I heard the call. It woke us both up.”

“Well, that’s happened before, girls, where our initial findings are proven wrong by the… proven wrong later,” he said. I could tell he was trying to avoid the word autopsy. “Or maybe you were mistaken about the time of the call, it was late.”

“We drove over immediately. I’ll prove you wrong right now,” Nancy hissed, taking out her phone. “I’ll show you that he called me at…” she looked at her phone. “He… the call isn’t showing up in my log,” she was frantic. “I’m telling you, he called me! How else would I have known there was a party? How else could I have known to come here? How…?” Nancy sobbed. Never mind that call logs are often wrong, Nancy wasn’t thinking straight at the moment. It took her parents and the police to finally subdue her. Nancy ended up leaving in an ambulance as well.

A check of Nancy’s cell phone records revealed no incoming calls from Nick on that night. Similarly, a check of Nick’s cell phone records revealed no outgoing calls or texts from Nick’s phone after about eleven that night when he made his final Facebook post.

Toxicology and autopsy reports confirmed Nick died of alcohol poisoning at one in the morning.

Credit To – Raine Angel

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Pop. 0

July 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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1
Nobody was surprised when Old Man Billings disappeared. He’d been wandering off for years, blind drunk, turning up sprawled across somebody’s back porch or curled up in the bed of somebody’s pick-up a few days later. The longest I’d ever heard of him being gone was a week. That time he’d come back into town wearing another man’s hat, with a one-way bus ticket from Binghamton in his pocket. He could never remember how he’d gotten either. Everyone was pretty forgiving of his peculiarities. They said he’d taken some shrapnel in the head in Italy back in the day, and he’d never been right since. Anyway, he’s been gone for a lot longer than a week this time. A lot longer.

2
When the baby disappeared, that was a lot worse. A newborn, Al and Connie Mitchell’s first. He was only about a week old, home fresh from the hospital. It was like the Lindbergh kidnapping all over again. Only this time, there was no ladder up to his room, no ransom request, and no arrest. It was horrible. State cops came in, gave Al this really hard time, like he did it—killed and hid his own kid. The cops dug up their yard, questioned all the neighbors. The FBI showed up too, if you can believe it, all the way out here, but nothing was found by way of evidence. No fingerprints, no blood stains, nothing.

4
Kim and Mike had been going steady all year. Mike had a brand new Trans Am, cherry red, with the black firebird design on the hood. It was a real beauty, and he’d put in some long hours at his dad’s store to earn it. Anyway, what he liked most about it was that he could drive Kim anywhere she wanted to go. Across the state line for booze, mostly. Though I had heard they’d driven all the way to the Falls in one night, just to see the sunrise, for their first month’s anniversary. That’s the kind of stuff they did. Crazy romantics. Everybody took it for granted that they would get married when they graduated. They did find the car, eventually. Way out in Hickcock’s pasture, over by Millville. Nobody could understand that. It wasn’t on the way to either of their houses, and just about as far from the main road as you could get. The paper wrote it up in very technical language, but you knew what they meant. “Signs of a struggle,” “evidence of physical injury”—in layman’s terms, it was kind of a mess inside, and there was blood. Maybe Mike’s. Maybe Kim’s. Maybe both.

7
People were beginning to get a little freaked out. It didn’t seem like you were safe anywhere, whether you were a hobo wanderer like Billings, or safe in your bed in your own house with your parents and grandparents downstairs, like the Mitchell baby, or out in your car on a date, like poor Mike and Kim. Was it murder? Was it kidnappings? Was it the work of a lone maniac, or a cult, or were these disappearances completely unrelated? Nobody, not even the Feds, seemed to have an explanation. So all anybody could do was stick together, never going out alone, and parents keeping a real close eye on their kids. Stuff you’d normally do in the summer-time, like go for a bike ride, or walk down to the pool, or just hang out with your friends at the bandstand on a hot night, all that kind of thing stopped on a dime. Even things people tried to do to stay normal, like go to little league practice, ended when Mrs. Havens and the boys disappeared. She’d gone to walk her son Tommy and his friend Duane back from the softball field, and though people saw them leave, they never made it home.

14
In the absence of anything else to do to help, the local Baptists decided to hold a prayer vigil up at the lake, to pray for the return of our town’s lost sheep, or something like that. Pastor Stigile drove the church van, and his wife Carol came too, as well as the Allans and their two kids, and Mrs. Foster, who can’t drive herself anywhere anymore. They started out very early. The van was later found pretty far out of town, but nowhere near the lake. It was sitting at a slant, nose tipped into the ditch, by the side of the road. There was no trace of the Baptists, not even a handbag.

I happened to be walking uptown a few days after the van was found. I guess I shouldn’t have been out alone, considering, but a walk up Main Street, in the middle of the day, with traffic going by and all, didn’t seem like much of a risk. One thing that was a little troubling, though. My house is just outside the town limits, where the sign is. Glenwood, pop. 1,485. It’s an old sign that’s seen it’s share of buckshot, but as I came to it I noticed vandals had gotten it again, though with spray paint instead of shotguns, this time. In red, someone had crossed out the population number and scrawled a huge “0” over the whole face of the sign, voicing, perhaps, all our fears. Glenwood, population: zero.

I passed the car dealership further up the road, and I saw something moving in the back lot, out of the corner of my eye. I spun my head around to get a better look, thinking maybe it was the lone killer out to get me, but I saw it was just Bill Marshall, the insurance agent. He was in a brown suit and snap brim hat, and I noticed he had his camera around his neck and was making notes on a little pad.

I walked through the cars for sale at the front of the lot, and cars waiting for repairs or waiting to be picked up for repairs. In back, where Bill was, were a few junkers; cars that had been totaled in accidents, soon to be hauled to the scrap yard out on Porter Road. Bill Marshall is about forty, with light hair and eyes, and a thick sort of build. He was standing, I noticed, in front of a van, it’s round headlights staring back at him mutely. It was white on the top and blue on the sides, and it said “First Baptist Church” in white paint across the panels. Around it were saw horses that read “POLICE–DO NOT PASS” on their cross bars.

I said hello and he said hello, and he got his camera out and took a picture of the front of the van. The photo slid out of the Polaroid with a mechanical “whrr,” and he took it out the rest of the way and flapped it in the air, to dry it. There was a strong smell of chemicals.

He was squinting at the van, not puzzled, exactly—almost like he was smiling, but also like he was thinking. He’s a hard guy to get a read on. He smiles when he’s being serious and frowns when he’s telling you a joke. A real character.

“So what do you think about this, Rudy?” he asked me, nodding toward the van.

I shrugged. “What do the cops say?”

He squinted a little harder at the van, blowing on the picture now.

“I’m asking you,” he said. “Look at the vehicle, give me your opinion.”

I looked. It was the same, half-rusted out VW van I’d seen around town since I was a kid. A fixture at church socials and revival meetings. Pastor Stigile would load it up with parishioners on Easter Sunday and head for the hills for sunrise service. We were Presbyterians, so I’d never been inside the van, so I couldn’t say if anything on the inside was different. But it didn’t take a genius to see what the problem was.

The windshield was gone, broken out, and most of the other windows were too. Even though there was no sign of damage to the body of the van itself. I said as much to Bill.

He nodded gravely. He’d gone around to the side of it, and was taking another picture. Click, whrr.

“Take a look at this,” he said, waving me past the police barriers. Stepping around them, I peered inside the van through the torn remains of the safety glass. I looked for a long minute, then I moved forward, looking in the front, then to the rear, to check out the back window, too.

“It’s been cleaned,” I said. “There’s hardly any glass at all in there.”

Bill should his head slowly and puckered his lips, slowly wagging the photograph.

“Take another look. Tell me what you see.”

I looked. This time I looked all around, not just at the seats and the floor, but at the insides of the doors, and the window frames.

“There’s … shoe prints on the walls—dirty sneaker prints, and marks from the Reverend’s galoshes he always wears. There’s black marks from those all around the dashboard, and up where the rear-view mirror used to be, but it’s been broken off.”

Bill nodded again, blowing on his new picture. Then his teeth showed in what was either a wistful smile or a disdainful grimace.

“All the glass was found outside the vehicle. All over the road, and in the grass. That’s what the police report says.”

He was looking at me now, and watched my face change as I allowed what must have been the truth to penetrate.

Echoing my own thoughts, Bill said: “Now what do you suppose made those Baptists kick out the windows of that thing?”

It was an unsettling conversation. I had been on my way up to the Tastee-Freez to get an ice cream cone, but talking to Bill changed my mind. I thought about what he’d said all the way back home. What WOULD make them kick the windows out? And, maybe just as importantly, HOW could they? As Bill had gone on to say, “Old Lady Foster, two young kids–the tennis shoes–two middle-aged women and turkey-legs Pastor Stigile? Have you ever tried to kick the windows out of a vehicle, Rudy?” I admitted I hadn’t ever. He explained that it wasn’t easy, that he dealt with vehicles being stolen for joy-rides all the time. The kids that stole them would inevitably try to kick out the windows, just for fun, he said. And that those young, healthy, probably hopped-up teenagers could hardly ever manage it.

14
After the Baptists, things calmed down a little. There were no more disappearances, anyway, and people started to talk about the future, specifically, about the coming school year. The talk turned into an all-out debate that ended up down at the Grange Hall, with the whole town turning out to discuss it. It seemed the school board wanted to go ahead as though everything were normal, and but a majority of the parents wanted to wait to open the schools, to be sure their kids would be safe. It got pretty heated, with people yelling threats to pull their kids out of school for good, and the school board members yelling back that any kid kept home without an a medical excuse would be getting a visit from the County. You can see we were all in pretty bad shape; people around here aren’t really known for strong opinions or getting upset.

In the end, the board made the compromise that school would start in September, but that they would stagger the openings. Open the grade school first, then, if everything worked out, and there was no trouble, they’d open the middle school, then the high school. The FBI officials, who were also at the meeting, promised to search all the schools top to bottom, and station armed guards inside, for the first few days, at least.

357
That’s probably not an accurate number. Nobody’s really sure how many people were in the building at the time. And it doesn’t account for all the parents that ended up inside, or police or FBI that may have gone in afterwards. All anybody knows for certain is that there were 320 kids, 11 teachers, 4 school administrators, 2 janitors, and 6 FBI guards and policemen that were inside the grade school by 8:15 that Monday morning.

Everything started out okay. The more cautious parents brought their kids in themselves, but the school buses dropped the rest off like clockwork. As usual on the first day of kindergarten, Mrs. Dewey let parents stay a little while, and got the kids singing songs to distract them, so the parents could sneak out without the kids getting too upset. She’d been teaching kindergarten since my mom and dad went there, and I remember her doing the same thing when I was in her class.

No one even knew there was anything wrong until parents showed up about lunch time to pick up the kindergartners, who only have a half day. The parents could hear the dismissal bell ringing inside the school, but when no one came out, they started going in. And then, when those parents didn’t come back out, all hell broke loose. The remaining parents called the cops, and more emergency personnel showed up and flooded into the building, but no one came out. Calls made inside were not answered; it was a dead line. The FBI showed up and locked the whole area down, and now no one is allowed onto school grounds until they can figure out what to do.

That’s been the situation for three days now. State officials have come in from Harrisburg, news people from as far away as California. They have cameras all around the school, as close as the Feds will let them get, anyway. There’s helicopters roaring overhead, so close they make the house shake. My mom jumps when she hears it, and makes some remark about her good china getting cracked in the cupboard from the vibrations. She’s not really worried about the dishes. She’s just nervous and distracted. She sighs a lot, and pretends to read her magazines, when she’s not furiously cleaning something or cooking something, to keep her hands and mind occupied.

Dad won’t let me watch TV or listen to the radio. It would upset Mom too much. She knew everybody that disappeared. That’s not too much of a surprise, I guess, in a place like this, where everybody knows everybody, and is probably related, to boot. Mom had known Old Man Billings all her life; she’d hosted Connie Mitchell’s baby shower. She’d babysat both Mike and Kim when they were little. And Mrs. Havens? They were best friends.

Without being able to watch TV, and not being allowed to go over to any of my friend’s houses, I don’t have a lot of choices. I try shooting a few baskets, but it’s hot and pretty boring to do by myself. I read a few of my comic books, without much enthusiasm. New comics are hard to get here, and I’ve read the ones I’ve got like a million times.

Finally, Dad takes pity on me. He calls Mom’s friend Betty Wetzel to come over and keep her company, since her husband, Lou, is out of town (he’s a truck driver) this week, and he knows she’d jump at the chance to not have to be alone. He and I walk uptown when she gets here. I think he’s just as glad to get out of the house as I am.

We’re on our way to the donut shop, and see a bunch of people in front of the hardware store. There’s a Zenith set up in the window. The people gathered around make room for us. We can’t hear anything, of course, through the window glass, but there’s a blonde news lady talking earnestly into a microphone, the wind blowing her silk scarf, explaining again, no doubt, about the tragedy unfolding in our little farm town. It’s pretty strange to see my old grade school, there, behind her, on TV.

I look back at my dad for a second. He’s wearing that expression I’ve seen on his face all summer. Worry, pulling and dragging at his face, glinting in his eyes, behind his thick glasses. He glances at me, but can’t even summon a brief, reassuring smile. I look back at the TV. The blonde lady is gone. Now there’s just the school in the background, the wind gusting through the trees, and a few emergency vehicles in view. A long, unbroken shot.

I turn back to my dad, to ask if he saw that too? But he’s not there. Nobody’s there. The street, the cars, the buildings, everything, just like before, but no people. I

Credit To – J.Faunch

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Echiridion Aetheri

July 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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This may seem a little strange for a story, however I assure you what I am about to describe to you happened to us. There were five people present when it happened, although they may have their own separate and independent accounts of the event. Apart from them, I seem to be the more analytical type. I took the liberty of cataloging the event in every detail; that I am able to recall anyway, and to the best of my ability.

Of the four friends present at the time the important parts took place, there was: Rachel, my finance, although we never intended on marrying traditionally. Cody, my best friend since middle-school. Teressa, Cody’s girlfriend, whom nobody in my close circle of friends particularly enjoyed the company off. Alex, a film student, although he did not personally own a camera at the time. Then finally, myself making five people in total.

In the weeks passing immediately after the time we came across it, the only notable event that would have “made a lasting effect” on anyone outside the five of us would have been the death of Alex’s great-uncle. This death was expected as he was in his late 70′s, and has suffered a stroke only weeks ago. We could not logically connect his death with our experiences, so we best assumed them unrelated.

Discussion about this event between us has since stopped. As this topic tends to bring about us a feeling of dread, trauma. Probably a form of post-traumatic stress. I don’t know. What I do know is information relating what we found, and that I am going to pass this information directly onto you. So that you may either seek it, or avoid it as you will.

Quite simply, what we found was a book. It was bound in what an inexperienced eye would call “leather”. However, it did not have the classic, leather smell that even the oldest books tend to keep over time. Much like the feel of a heavy rubber, but with the distinctive smell of freshly used gym-shoes. The book was in an archival condition, but was discolored with age. The spine had seven distinct raised ridges, an intended aesthetic feature of the binding process. The color of the book, was that of a fine chocolate. There were windowed divots pressed into the front cover that only reinforces such comparison.

On the top of the book was a double-linked chain,\ which appeared to be made of brass, and at the end of that chain a heavy weight, I would say to be “several ounces”. This ensured that the chain was always dangling from the book pointing toward the ground. The “pendulum” was small for its weight, pointed, much like a rifle round, with the flat end having a tapered neck, where a thick brass wire was coiled around the head of it and feed through a hole where the chain was attached. The weight itself was elaborately engraved with seemingly random ornamental spirals, lines, and circles. The kind you would see normally painted fine pottery.

Trust me, we tried to remove it. It was very sturdy in its construction. Cody wanted to wear it as a necklace, and as all young-adults, we could care less about what parts an old book was missing. It wouldn’t come off. It was a very strong little tassel. We decided that we would take then entire book instead. We didn’t find this book in an old trunk, in an abandoned house or anything like that. It was laying on a shelf, with no cataloging markings, in the small genealogy section of our hometown library in [Classified-12], Michigan.

The book was honestly not that difficult to steal, as it seemed the book has not been cataloged. If it were cataloged, that would not have changed anything. Books in our library have easily identifiable and removable security strips in them. Not that they would risk damaging a book of this age with the addition of these security strips. I myself simply walked out of the front doors of this library with the book in my messenger bag. The agreement, in risk of getting cause stealing this book, was that I was able to keep it. Fair for me to have such an old and beautiful addition to my already decent home library.

It was titled “Enchiridion in Lux Aetherial”, meaning “Handbook of the Light Ethereal”, at least that is what online translation told me. However, the words “in Lux” and the “al” at the end of “Aetherial” were discolored. Not from old age, but more interestingly as the title on the binding was brushed with silver leaf. Those few letters appeared to be painted in a glossy walnut colored paint. However, did not detract from the overall style of the text. This seemed deliberate to us after short discussion. We, from that point, referred to the book as “Echiridion Aetheri” or “Ether Handbook”. Depending on the amount of latin we wanted to work into our lives on a given day.

It might seem strange to you, but we did not actually open the book until we returned to my place. In the heat of finding the book, we opened it up only to the front page, where the title was reinstated to look for stamps or stickers marking it as library property. Other than that we did not actually search through the book’s contents. The title on this front page was clear and the letters “in Lux” as well as the “al” were again, whitewashed and ultimately illegible. To the point you would only know the book’s title by looking at its binding.

While the book seemed to be well-kept, the pages told a different story. Thumbing through them, one could see varying sized dark brown splotches every couple of pages. Obviously stains from a liquid. At the time we presumed this to be blood, although now in hindsight, I realize it was too light to be blood. We never did get around to test it.

Now, the weird part. The book was not written in Latin or English. In fact, there were no recognizable roman characters in this book whatsoever. The text in this book was written in vertical columns from left to right. There was “whitespace” in between every few characters which may have been indicating the end of a word. There was no indicator for the end of a line or of a thought it seemed, and just went on for page after page. It included exactly 97 unique commonly recurring characters. Similar enough for us to draw a table for them, however there were countless other characters which may have represented words or concepts, similar to the Japanese kanji. Although the style of the writing was most likely not of oriental origin. The text was written in 51 columns on each page, with a spacer between every 17 columns, and was written on both the front and back sides of the paper. There was some space between the last vertical of text, and the edge of the paper, about and inch. This area on every page, with the exception of 28 full page art pieces. Within the text at intervals were many well lined, black and white diagrams of what I gathered to be minerals and gemstones in one part of the book. Plants and animals in another, and somewhere near the middle, a very precisely drawn and inked astrological diagram depicting seasons, and others representing the precession of the equinox and [Classified-12].

Also, the book contained quite a few “full page” lined and painted art pieces. The style was different from that of the book’s many diagrams in the sense that it was best described as flamboyant and brightly colored. Even in its age, the quality of the watercolor paints used, it had to be watercolor, were testament to the creator’s intentions of having this book survive for a very very long time. The text in the book seemed to be separated into 17 distinct sections, each made up of 19 – 34 pages, the book was 428 pages long, including the title page. This does count both sides of the paper used, meaning it was a book bound from 214 individual sheets. The book with binding was roughly 2 and a half inches thick, 10 and a half in height, and 6 and a half inches in width.

After a while, a few of us realized that what we had found might be just a legitimate “priceless artifact”. We eventually came upon doing the right thing, and went immediately to the only person we knew that could deal with a situation such as this. We called a history professor of mine at 10pm that night on November 17th of 2013, a Sunday. He told told us that he was already in bed reading, and that he was preparing his next week’s lesson plan. After giving him the details, the same I have just given you, thieving of the book included. He suggested that the book may have been a hoax, dropped off at the library for someone like us to pick up and make a media frenzy about.

He agreed to, at 6am early the next day, pick us up and would go to the paleobiology department of the college to radiometrically date the book as a group. After we didn’t sleep that night, we gathered up enough energy to head out with him to the college. When we arrived we were surprised to come upon a couple of his colleagues, other professors whom he informed and joined him to date the book properly. Using a small file, some of the “brassy” material of the chain weight was put into a small vial with liquid, and separately as well as a 1cm square of the paper used to write the book. Using an atomic mass spectrometer available at the institution, we dated the book to be roughly between 600 and 800 years old by the paper used, and 800 to 1400 years old by the brass pendulum. However, this did tell us the book was not in its original binding. Also while the paper was authentic, the printed Latin text on the titlepage was added much later in the book’s lifetime. Presumed the same time the binding was added.

We wanted the college to hold the book for us, so that no harm came to it. The professor insisted that we take it back home with us, as he said “I cannot guarantee its safety while it is on campus.”. The professor then added that he did not want to cause an uproar so soon, and would need to do some research, as well as us on where the book may have come from, sometime between the 10th and 14th centuries. Trust me, the 4 of us; Cody, Alex, my fiance and myself searched many encyclopedias, the society archives, and even the [Classified-12] records held by the [Classified-12 - - - - - -] for more than a week.

This was fine all, but it was no longer fun. It became real work, some of us became bored. Rachel stopped searching after a few days. I was started to lose interest as well. Cody however, decided that attempting to read the book was the best method of finding the originator. This made much more sense to me that what we had been doing. We both knew enough to grasp the concepts depicted in the diagrams of the handbook. We knew this would be a good place to start, as the names of astrological bodies haven’t changed all that much over the last 2000 years. Eventually, the professor joined in with us in an attempt decipher the book’s contents. Not long after that is when it happened.

It was 2am, December 4th, the 4 of us had been working late, Alex had already drifted off to sleep. I was also getting to that point, I decided to use the restroom, take a shower, and then head off to bed. Cody, at the time was my roommate, and he headed on after me. The book was laying on our research table, along with clips from old papers, and any other clues we could find. However, when I came out of the shower, he was still working on the decoding. I walked up and told him “Hey, we can get to this tomorrow. I’ve only gotten an hour of sleep a day for the last week working on this. I’m sure Teressa’s starting to worry about you.”. He looked up at me, in an reaction, half sorrow, and half amazement. I can’t quite say. He just keep beading into my eyes and then calmly smirked and said. “Your girl going in there or is it free?” referring to the shower.

He came back out, grabbed a bowl of cereal like he normally did before he went to bed. Lucky charms I do believe. I went to sleep, my room is nextdoor to his. We have always kept the doors to our rooms open. This was some sort of sick joke the two of us played where each couple would try to get the other hearing them fucking. Anyhow, this night, he closed his door. I kept mine open as usual, and Rachel came in wrapped in two towels like she did every time after she showered, one of them in her hair. We feel asleep rather quickly.

I woke up at about 4:30 am to the sound of a door closing. Our house was two story 3 bedroom, with half the living-room converted into another bedroom haphazardly barricaded by bedsheets strung up between the overhang. He left out the front door of the house, but he was attempting to be quiet about leaving. I had assumed that he was leaving with his girlfriend over to her place, like I had earlier vaguely suggested. 4 hours later I was woken up by Rachel waking up and getting dressed. Figuring that everyone else was gone, and that we had the house to ourselves, we ended up having sex, and didn’t really start our day until about 11am.

First thing after that, she went to use the restroom and then ended up making a pot of coffee for the both of us. She sat in the living room, and as I was coming downstairs she murmured the worse words I have ever heard a human being speak. “Where did you guys put the book last night?”. I naively responded by walking up to the table, pointing to it without looking at, saying “Right there.”. As I looked down coffee in hand, to my dismay, the book was not there. I didn’t panic immediately. I figured that Cody may have put it into its usual spot, an honest lectern with a lock. That was sitting within the same research table. I unlocked the desk to the table to open the lectern, which had a small hole in it to open the lid to the closed lectern drawer. It wasn’t in there either. I then pulled out my cellphone to call Cody, now with the assumption that he had taken the book with him to do research at Teressa’s house, in the afternoon. Not a big deal. That was until I had realized the ringing coming from the kitchen counter next to a half eaten bowl of lucky charms.

I went outside, his car was still parked across the street, and now the situation was starting to look a little urgent. Me an Rachel drove down to Teressa’s house to see if he was there. Teressa’s was not necessarily a far from where we were, about 10 or so blocks. Something Cody could have walked, but at 4 in the morning unlikely. We knocked on her door, and she told us that she had not hear from him in almost 4 days. I knew this already, but I thought he went there last night.

On the 21st of December, just a few days before Christmas, after looking for at least two weeks we found him. The state and local police, got involved after we filled a missing persons report. Shortly after, federal agents and [Classified-12] after he was found. The professor was the person we went to after Teressa. He helped us in filing the case. We don’t know if the book was ever found. For all we know it could be in a [Classified-12 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -].

When we found him, we were all in a state of shock. The police were confused, as were we. My fiance had to leave, and Teressa was crying. Alex ended up writing a report for the police and the federal agents who showed up not long after. He was found, still alive thankfully, in a storage unit not far outside of the city. Cody was a medical student, but he was an unsuccessful dropout. I can’t blame him for that. Cody had pumped blood into a bag, rather crudely, from supplies of questionable origin. He had made a duplicate of the book, the entire book, on heavy weight canvas, written in his own blood. He had lost so much blood that he was not able to respond when he was found. After a short while [an] [Classified-12] ambulance picked him up taking him to some kind of [Wellness] [Classified-12] Center not far from [Classified-12 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -]. The federal agents confiscated all of the photocopied pages of the book, as well as most of the manuscripts that he had written in relation to [Classified-12 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -].

The media did not cover this story, and the “Enchiridion in Lux Aetherial” is now lost to us. The only part of the book we have that remains, are the notes that were confiscated and then returned to us after [Classified-12 - - - -] searched our house. Cody, is now in a [Wellness] [Classified-12] Center for his condition. The last time we spoke to him, the only coherent things we could muster from his garbled speech was, “She stands at the edge of space, solidity congealing blood, a formless star, nothing begat her, motionless, still, she stands… she stands at the edge of space… she stands… she stands at the edge of space.”. With that, we [Classified-12 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -]. hope that you don’t come across these same horrors. I don’t know if there was already something wrong with him or what, but if it could trigger him like that, then… I just don’t know.

Credit To – Xyeunliatbhs

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